ON-Lion Letter

Every year, teacher candidates in the United States spend an estimated $40 million to purchase textbooks purporting to teach how children learn -- yet almost none of them cover the core strategies they will need as teachers to increase student learning and retention.

For Learning About Learning:  What Every Teacher Needs to Know, the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) in Washington, D.C., looked at a representative sample of 48 textbooks used in programs that are training elementary and secondary teachers.  Not one of the textbooks selected by programs for assignment in educational psychology or methods coursework -- where teacher candidates typically learn about learning -- provided even minimal coverage of the small set of research-based instructional strategies most likely to be effective in any kind of classroom, no matter the age or subject.  At best, the textbooks reference a fraction of what would benefit teachers, speaking to one or two of the core strategies.

"Teacher candidates are being sold a bill of goods, being asked to spend millions of dollars on textbooks which fail to deliver," said Kate Walsh, president of NCTQ, which is substantially supported by Milwaukee's Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.  "Depriving teachers of this essential professional knowledge is a tremendous disservice.  The notion that novice teachers will eventually just 'catch on,' learning as they teach, may have been a necessity in 1950; it's not the case now, courtesy of a half century of great research."

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